From the Orchestra Library

Radetzky Rescue

Posted in Uncategorized by kschnack on June 2, 2009

I am constantly amazed at the generosity of the librarian community worldwide.  Most players and administrators probably don’t realize how often the librarian for one orchestra takes the time to assist another.  And, by doing so, assists the players and conductors directly.  This could mean anything from scanning and sending a part at 7:55 p.m. if a player has forgotten it, to sending a complete set of materials for reference when another librarian needs to see corrections. Such aid isn’t just offered within the US – it’s between countries and continents, night and day.  Over the past 25 years MOLA has built and nurtured this community, and provided a communication system by which we can reach each other quickly when in need.  We even have a MUSIC 911 option through our member forum.

For our summer season, Radetzky March was added to a program at the end of this month with our new music director.  Anytime a new “MD” comes on board, there is an inevitable shift in musical style which prompts changes in the markings of scores and parts.  Many times this even means purchasing new sets of standard repertoire so that the MD can have a dedicated set of parts for use on his or her performances exclusively.  Such was the case with Radetzky for us this time; even though it seems like a relatively insignificant piece in comparison to, say, a Mahler symphony, we knew our old set would not withstand another round of erasing and remarking, and that we needed to get a second one.

So we contacted our friend and colleague Tom Takaro at the Houston Symphony (the Texas orchestra librarians have created our own sort of mini-MOLA for times like these, which has helped foster a nice congenial working sub-group) because when that city was flooded by Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, the entire orchestra library was destroyed and they have had to painstakingly replace it piece by piece.  During these past eight years the Houston librarians have become intimately acquainted with the latest editions of orchestral repertoire. We wanted to know what Tom had purchased for Radetzky, and if he liked the edition.  Not only did he answer us quickly with pertinent details, he informed us that he had an extra set of parts to Radetzky in his library that he didn’t need now (new, clean) and that we could have it.  We replied we’d be happy to take it off his hands and pay what it cost him, so asked for an invoice.

Two days later we received a package that included the full set, complete with an errata list to make the corrections, and a note conveying that this was a gift for which no invoice would be sent.  Just like that.  No fuss, no muss.  We have a set of parts, we corrected and marked it, and it’s in the folders.  Done.  At a savings to our organization both in time and money.

We have been the recipient of such generosity many times, and try to return the favor whenever possible.  It just seemed like such a good deed it shouldn’t go unmentioned.  In case you have never read about the Houston Symphony’s terrible ordeal eight years ago, here is an excellent article:


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